ATP Vina Del Mar
World number 73 Horacio “Z ball” Zeballos of Argentina shocked Rafa Nadal in 3 sets 6-7 7-6 6-4 tonight. Zeballos gutted out a 2nd set tiebreak and broke at love after holding at love to take the match in the 3rd set for his first ever ATP title in his 2nd career final.
Zeballos was able to push Nadal around the court, even on clay, and played what was probably the match of his life with nifty shotmaking. He broke down in tears of joy at the conclusion.
It was Nadal’s first event back from a knee injury and it will be certain to leave a bitter taste in his mouth, even though he made the final.
Previously in the week Zeballos beat Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in 3, Pablo Andujar, Albert Ramos in 3 and Carlos Berlocq in straights.
As for Nadal, he actually looked ok in his first matches back, not 100% but still above average, scoring comfortable wins over Federico Del Bonis, Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Jeremy Chardy. Zeballos certainly caught him by surprise. The loss was just the third of his career after winning the 1st set on clay and his first loss to a player outside the ATP top 50 on clay since 2004.
Nadal also had success this week in doubles but fell short again in the final, as he and Juan Monaco lost to Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.
Richard Gasquet won his 2nd ATP title in 2 months and has only lost one match this year. He beat countryman Benoit Paire 6-2 6-3 in a slam dunk all-French final. Gasquet is red hot and mentally focused as he beat Gael Monfils, Julian Benneteau and Jarkko Nieminen, all in 3 sets to reach the final. All were competitive matches but Reeshie outlasted his opponents.
As for Paire, he reached his 2nd career ATP final and will be at a career high ranking as he slipped past Adrian Mendendez-Maceiras, Steve Darcis, Gilles Simon and Michael Llodra to reach the final. Llodra had knocked out Janko Tipsarevic in round 2.
In the doubles, it was also a victory for France, as Marc Gicquel and Llodra beat Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klaasen.
Marin Cilic returned to victory, capturing his 3rd career Zagreb title 6-3 6-1 in his home country over a frustrated Jurgen Melzer. Cilic beat Grega Zemlja, Blaz Kavcic, and Mikhail Youzhny to reach the final, while Melzer, who had been struggling recently, had a bit of a lucky draw in beating Somdev Devvarman, Lukas Rosol and Robin Haase.
In doubles, Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek beat Croatians Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic.